Current Child Count

  • HOGAR DE AMOR I: 11 babies
  • HOGAR DE AMOR II: 6 boys
  • HOGAR DE AMOR III: 8 girls

Monday, May 18, 2009

Child History 8.0

Each child comes with their own unique story:
heart breaking, tragic, with conflicting details, many unknowns and doubts...or all of the above. Here's the story of two little girls who arrived with an uphill climb.

On November 9, 2007, I was standing in the kitchen meeting with the cook I think. The phone rang, and the social worker/administrator found me and said it was child welfare, asking for space for sisters ages 5 months and almost 2. We hadn’t taken in siblings all year so I felt drawn to take them in although we were starting to get overly full. We conversed just a minute and I gave the go ahead.

Within an hour the little girls arrived, and it was quickly obvious that we had our work cut out for us. But first we interviewed the two ladies bringing them, supposedly the (young) aunt and (elderly) grandmother. Both were obviously very poor, from a hard life far outside the city, and were more comfortable speaking Quechua. It was several months before the “aunt” confessed to the caregivers that she was indeed the mother, justifying her decision by saying that if she had told the truth no one would have helped her (possibly true, since she is young and healthy and can work hard to provide for her children).

We took the girls right to the doctor. Helen was almost two and yet didn't walk. She was in a precarious state of health, with bronchitis, multiple infections, oozing sores, diarrhea, and severe malnutrition. Although it was a Friday afternoon, they made an exception to admit her to the nutrition center. (I was relieved, wanting to protect the other babies in the home.)

But we soon learned that her emotional state was worse than anything. She seemed to have “shut down” inside and was very easily frightened, making us think she had been severely neglected and abused. After a month long stay in the hospital to begin recuperating nutritionally and to be healed of her many ills, Helen came home to us and began the very slow process of coming out of her shell.

Iris was also a sight to behold upon arrival, but in comparison to the struggles of her sister, she’s been a hardy and healthy baby. However once she began walking, we realized that her legs were much too outward curved, causing her to trip and stumble constantly. She is now in a long-term treatment plan with an orthopedic specialist. During waking hours she wears a custom brace and special orthopedic shoes to correct the curvature of her legs and flat feet. Helen is also in treatment with the orthopedist to correct very flat feet that cause her legs to curve from the knee.

As Helen took fully twice as long to pass normal developmental milestones, our neurologist diagnosed her with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) due to drug and alcohol use by her mother while pregnant. The brain damage from FAS is permanent and the only course of action is much stimulation, love, and nutrition. After one year of living in Casa de Amor, the neurologist gave us very positive feedback on the great progress Helen has made. She is a delight to be with, very sweet and quiet, and loves the games of little girls such as caring for her baby dolls.

Iris has always been one of our most easy-going babies, and now as a toddler hardly makes a peep (although she hates change, such as leaving the house for any reason or even suspecting she might have to leave the house). She plays contentedly alone or with the other toddlers.

Although we’ve presented papers that could lead to the girls’ adoption, at the same time we are starting to formulate a plan of action to get the girls back with their mother. It’s still a long road ahead, but we’ve come a long way!

*Names changed

Pictures from top of post to bottom:
1) The girls upon arrival, pre-baths
2) Holding Helen in the doorway as the kids and caregivers greet the newcomers

3) Iris recovering from chicken pox, January 2009
4) The sisters together last year after being at Casa de Amor one year

Help provide loving care for Helen & Iris for $50/month through Casa de Amor's new child sponsorship program. Download THIS form to start!

1 comment:

Katrina said...

I love love love the name Iris - its one of my top baby names :)

These girlies have grown and developed so much! I remeber going to visit "Helen" at the centre with Joelle just before we flew back to NZ!

Take care,
K :)